Plato’s ‘Platonic Solid’ Proven Accurate Thousands of Years Later

The Greek philosopher Plato and his famed “Platonic Solid” concept got a big boost when scientists found the average shape of rocks that break tends to be roughly cube-like. How could Plato, born c.428 BC, have known?

Long ago, in the 5th century BCE, Plato assigned Earth a cube shape among the five types of matter. However, the concept goes back before Plato, seen in ancient carved shapes dating to 2000 BC.

Using perfect symmetry as a guide, Plato described the material world by reducing it to these atomic substances. 

The Platonic Solid List:

Earth – Cube

Air – Octahedron 

Fire – Tetrahedron 

Water – Icosahedron

Universe – Dodecahedron

Later, Aristotle suggested the Dodecahedron should represent space-filling Ether.

On each Platonic solid, the shapes are all bounded by regular polygons of the same type.

From there, Archimedes truncated the original Platonic solid group. Then, he described exactly thirteen semi-regular convex polyhedra, the Archimedian solids. On these shapes, the faces are all regular polygons. However, you can see two or more types of polygon faces on each shape. 

Image: Platonic solid by Drummyfish via Wikimedia Commons, (CC0 1.0)
Image: Platonic and Archimedian solids by Drummyfish via Wikimedia Commons, (CC0 1.0)

‘Plato’s Beautiful Loser’ – Not Such a Loser After All

Flash forward to recent times, and it seems that Plato somehow “anticipated the spirit of modern theoretical physics,” as NOVA put it. At the same time, they refer to this concept as overly ambitious: “Plato’s Beautiful Loser.” Science moved on to atoms as the building blocks of the universe. Even so, the first concept of the atom began in 400 BC with Democritus.

“Plato’s Beautiful Loser was, in hindsight, a product of premature, and immature, ambition. He tried to leap directly from beautiful mathematics, some imaginative numerology, and primitive, cherry-picked observations to a Theory of Everything,” wrote Frank Wilczek.

However, now it looks like Plato was on to something after all, at least when it comes to the whole Earth, that is. 

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Plato Had it Right – At Least About Earth

Recently, international researchers used math, geology, and physics to show that the “average shape of rocks on Earth is a cube,” reported Phys.org.

As Popular Mechanics put it:

“New research shows a Platonic ideal may be true after all: The world may primarily break into cubes, and not just in Minecraft.”

Working backward, the team of researchers from different fields discovered that cubes are the average shape that forms when rocks break into pieces. However, the cube shapes only applied to 3-D, not flat 2-dimensional shapes. In flatter shapes, they tend to break into rectangular or hexagons.

Then, the team went into the field, finding that rocks weathered by nature or human activities fit Plato’s concept. Perhaps, Plato had observed this in nature himself?

Platonic Solid Prescience?

Geophysicist Douglas Jerolmack remarked:

“It turns out that Plato’s conception about the element earth being made up of cubes is, literally, the statistical average model for real earth. And that is just mind-blowing.”

Not only could the cube shape describe geological processes on Earth, but everywhere. 

“Remarkably, they found that the core mathematical conjecture unites geological processes not only on Earth but around the solar system as well,” wrote the University of Pennsylvania.

Incredibly Advanced Ancient Knowledge

Certainly, the ancients were far ahead of their times on many fronts. For example, the modern concept of the multiverse is being compared to the overlapping worlds of Norse mythology and Buddhist or Hindu cosmology. 

Further, the CIA’s modern practice of remote viewing harkens back to ancient beliefs in the Third Eye.

Also, ancient beliefs in the connectedness of life in the forests have been shown scientifically accurate.

Recently, an Australian mathemetician found what may be the oldest known example of applied geometry on a 3,700-year-old Babylonian clay tablet. Incredibly, the tablet used Pythagorean triples, predating the Greek mathematician Pythagoras by over 1,000 years.

Perhaps, we should give MUCH more credit to the insights of our ancient ancestors?

Related: Intact Ancient Petrified Tree Found Near ‘Father of Botany’s’ Hometown 

Featured image: Plato by GDJ via PixabayPixabay License with Platonic solids by Drummyfish via Wikimedia Commons, (CC0 1.0) with shade by Clker-Free-Vector-Images via PixabayPixabay License